What are Container Weight Declarations (Chain of Responsibility Risk)

Containers are a major part of Australia’s consumption and we have seen the explosion of import containers over the last few years. The transport and control of containers has become a major part of transport as a result. One area that I receive many calls on under C&E, is that of “Container Weight Declarations” aka “CWD”. People ask what is a CWD and where can I get the CWD form. So let’s dispel a myth, a CWD is not a pre-set form that you get from some government department, a CWD is any form a business wants to generate, there is no specific format, it can be a paper based form, an electronic from or even a placard attached to the container, however there is specific content.

What Information must a Container Weight Declaration (CWD) Contain?

Some of the basic information a CWD must contain are:

  • Container number
  • Particulars consigned freight
  • Name and address, of an individual or business address, in Australia of the responsible entity for the consigned freight
  • Date of the declaration
  • Any other information required by the regulations
  • And of course – the weight

So why do I need a CWD?

The CWD’s purpose is to enable the transport company to collect and move a container from point to point within Australia legally. Under C&E, legal control is a key issue and in most circumstances a transport company moving containers off the wharf will not know what they are carrying unless they have some form of documentation about the content of the container and its weight. The CWD is a method to provide a transport operator with information about the load so that they can make decision about what is needed to ensure that the container can be carried legally.
What protection do I get with a CWD?
If a transport company is engaged to carry a container under a CWD, then provides legal transport for that container as per the CWD the company will be deemed as taking “reasonable steps” to transport the load. If it turns out that the details in the CWD were false and this results is a road law breach, the transport company can use the CWD as “reasonable steps of defence” and push the breach back onto the “responsible entity in Australia” that completed the CWD. There is a whole list of responsibilities for the responsible entity as well as prescribed fines for those people.

So what is a “Responsible Entity”?

Chain of Responsibility for contracted deliveries A “Responsible Entity” is the person or company that has commission the carriage or import of goods via a container and provided all relevant information about the goods and their weight. This entity may be the importer and final user; it may be a broker; it may be a Freight Forwarder; it may be the transport company, in essence it’s the entity that is commissioning the carriage and is completing the CWD. The DECLARATION part of the CWD is important the CWD is in effect a “Statutory Declaration” about the details of the load and the container.

“Responsible Entity” and CWD Accuracy

So what happens if the Entity makes a false declaration? Well they are now open to prosecution under C&E and face road breach fines; they may also be subject to a “corporate accelerated fine” which is 3 times the base fine. But the hidden issue is “Recovery of Losses” under the legislation a person who has suffered a loss as a result of false or misleading CWD has the right to seek recovery of losses, the losses may include such things as, lost time, damage to equipment and infrastructure, recovery of fines and penalties and any associated legal costs.
For example; if a transport operator carries a container that is legal under a CWD then gets stopped by the authorities and the CWD found to be false. The driver may spend all day at the side of the road until the container is rectified, rectification may require a crane, the driver may receive a fine, and the vehicle may be damaged as a result of an overweight container. All of these are costs and the transport operator has the right under legislation to recover all losses from the “Responsible Entity” as a result of their false declaration.

To find out more about Container Weight Declarations and how to ensure you do not fall foul of CWD legislation Contact Latus on 1300 008 386

Remember under CoR legislation

AND the onus of proof is to prove your innocent as under the legislation you are assumed guilty!

Doing nothing is not an option
For more infomation email us or click live chat  or call 1300 008 386

Mike Wood

Mike Wood, Managing Director – LATUS: Logistic Risk Specialists Mike Wood is the recognised Australian Specialist on Chain of Responsibility Legislation and its Impacts upon the Logistic Industry. Since 2003, Mike has been heavily involved in Chain of Responsibility (known as Compliance and Enforcement in Western Australia). Mike is frequently interviewed or comment sort by Australian Media outlets, as well as providing expert witness testimony in legal proceedings. Most recently engaged by the Western Australian Government to help educate WA businesses on the new Compliance and Enforcement legislation and its impacts on them. Mike regularly advises Governments and Business across South East Asia and Australia on Logistic Issues, and was particularly involved in the Chain of Responsibility legislation, and codes of practice. Mike’s expertise extends to multiple facets of the Supply Chain, having undertaken projects such as, Integrated Logistic Chain Design, Australian Disaster Management Response Logistics, Coal Chain designs, Port operation & infrastructure, Logging Operation design, Sugar production, livestock movements, logging etc.

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